Wednesday, November 23, 2011


It’s that time of the year again and BioMalaysia rolls around for the Malaysian biotech industry to showcase the progress being made in the country.

This year’s edition comes with a twist as the conference is bundled together with the BIO Pacific Rim Summity on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy 2011, a prestigious international event by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).

This is the first time the Pac Rim Summit is being held outside of North America.

The conference kicked off with a bang as our Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak highlighted the potential of the Bioeconomy (newly coined buzzword) in Malaysia.

The other key announcement, which quite seems to be quite starkly carried over from the World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology in Toronto this year, is the National Biomass Strategy, which seems to be the answer to the world’s cry for sustainable biomass to be produced and supplied to the world to produce renewable energy.

As Malaysia hopes to leverage on the miles and miles of palm oil plantations, there’s a belief that this could be the next big thing for wealth creation in Malaysia.

Other interesting items on the agenda were the sessions on the use of microalgae for generating biofuels, as well as discussions on food security.

Malaysia has also been busy enhancing services for conventional agriculture through the establishment of the Centre for Marker Development and Validation.

This centre utilizes proprietary technology to assist conventional breeders in identifying and selecting hybrids for commercial purposes. The centre is based in the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institution.

Friday, November 18, 2011

2nd National Intervarsity Biotechnology Debate Competition!

After last year’s successful Intervarsity Biotechnology Debate Competition, the 2011 edition was held in AIMST University, all the way up in Semeling, just outside of Sungai Petani in Kedah.

Besides having the chance to visit AIMST’s gorgeous campus, it was also a good eye-opener into the world of debating, something not many science types are aware of.

The intervarsity debate scene in Malaysia is very much its own subculture with a variety of students from different backgrounds (mainly LAW but also literature, medicine, dentistry, actuarial science and what not).

This competition was a great avenue to expose non-science students to the intricacies of biotech-related issues and controversies surrounding the industry.

Additionally, it was a chance for students to mingle and get to know their counterparts from different universities over the quick fire British Parliamentary style debates.

The quality of the debaters was very impressive and renewed a lot of confidence in the visitors (yours truly) of the quality of our graduates.

A quick word goes out to Tiffeny and the rest of the organizers for a job very well done as well!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Reaching the Grassroots

MABIC was given the opportunity to reach out to Form Three students in Sri Dasmesh, a private school, recently to talk about the opportunities that come from studying biology.

We were asked to come in as the teachers were concerned about an increasing trend among students to drop biology in Form Four.

This was due to students believing that biology was merely memorizing facts and regurgitating it during the exam.

So from the get go, we had an uphill task ahead of us.

It’s always an interesting experience going to schools to build interest in science, because that’s truly where the rubber meets the road.

Having been doing this for a few months now, there’s nothing more hard-hitting than when you are standing in front of 15 year olds, trying to convince them that life sciences is worth their attention.

It’s a whole other challenge to speaking to university students or PhD candidates, where facts, numbers, policies and abstract designs hold value and are relatable.

Truly, when communicating with those who are taking baby steps into science, the key is to communicate essence of science and the reason for technology.

It’s interesting that in GCE A-levels, in Biology in the American syllabus, and in first year university, the first lecture is always a quick study in the philosophy behind the life sciences and biology.

Nonetheless, I do work for a not-for-profit, so I have every right to be idealistic. J

Anyway, back to the story, we managed to get the students pretty excited especially after a quick play with DNA in the lab. We are heading back to Sri Dasmesh to speak to the teachers in Dec!